Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 18 August 2011) . . Page.. 3618 ..
(5) Is the ACT Government aware of local or international evidence showing (a) that it is difficult to contain GE crops and to prevent contamination and (b) there are potential human health risks.
(6) What is the ACT Government’s position on the health marketing claims relating to “nutricrops” or “functional foods”.
Ms Gallagher: I am advised that the answer to the Member’s question is as follows:
(1) The ACT Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2004 allows the Minister for Health, to make a moratorium order prohibiting the cultivation in the ACT of a stated Genetically Modified (GM) food plant. The purpose of the Act is to designate the ACT as an area in which certain GM crops may not be cultivated, in order to preserve the identity of GM and/or non-GM crops produced in the ACT for marketing purposes.
The ACT currently has moratoria on the commercial cultivation of two varieties of GM canola. (Canola is not grown commercially in the ACT). The Moratorium Act does not have an expiry date and states that it may be expired on a date of the Minister for Health’s choosing.
No GM food crops are grown in the ACT for commercial purposes. A number of GM research trials (conducted through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)) are underway in the ACT. The ACT supports licensed, scientific research into genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being conducted in the territory.
CSIRO, because it is a Australian Government statutory authority (constituted and operating under the provisions of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949), is not bound by a moratorium order under the ACT Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2004.
Any decision on whether to amend or expire the ACT Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2004 will be informed by the consideration of the National Framework to Develop Co-existence Strategies for GM and non-GM crops (the National Framework).
(2) The regulation of these matters is a federal responsibility. The member should also note the ACT Government in general supports the use of GM foods only where they have been appropriately assessed for public health and safety, i.e. are approved for human consumption and listed in Standard 1.5.2 - Food Produced Using Gene Technology of the Food Standards Code.
(3) At the meetings of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, the ACT Government has supported a national approach to food labeling including the labeling of GM foods. In relation to GM foods, the ACT Government has always supported the labeling provisions in Standard 1.5.2 - Food Produced Using Gene Technology of the Food Standards Code. A comprehensive labelling of GM foods not only serves the interests of consumers, but benefits industry in a number of important ways. For example, it helps to maintain confidence in the food industry by providing consumers with meaningful information on the GM status of foods, thus allowing them to make informed choices.